Anthonis Mor was the leading Dutch portrait painter of the 16th century. Mary Tudor, Queen of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, and future wife of King Philip II of Spain, is seen seated in this portrait, although she is painted almost full-length.
They say that Mary Tudor fell madly in love with Philip II after seeing his portrait by Titian, which was sent to her from Brussels. This was the custom at the time, in order to see what suitors and future spouses looked like. The red rose is a symbol of her love for the king, and it also coincides with the rose on the Tudor coat of arms. When the couple married, she was 38 and he was 27. For several years, Philip was King Consort of England, but when Mary Tudor died childless, he married Isabel de Valois.
As you can see, her face is highly realistic. In it, and in the rich clothing and jewellery she wears, the painter has attempted to convey her regal character. Over her chest she wears Spanish jewels: a magnificent stone known as “El Estanque” or The Pool, from which hangs a pearl known as the Pilgrim pearl. The pearl belonged to Philip II’s mother, and it eventually ended up belonging to Elizabeth Taylor.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns
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